In part of our two-part celebrity series, Her Campus is excited to introduce sophomore Matthew Meyerhoffer, accounting student and Alternative Break participant. Not only was it was his first time he has ever done AB, but he actually went outside of the US! We applaud his adaptability and willingness to try new things. We encourage all Her Campus readers to look into the AB program at Xavier and give your breaks to a greater cause… with your friends!
Name: Matthew Meyerhoffer
Hometown: Glandorf, Ohio
Year: Sophomore, Class of 2017
Hobbies: singing in various choirs on campus
How many times have you been on Alternative Breaks? What made you go the first time and why do you keep doing it?
This was my first AB trip. I started doing AB this year because I missed doing service and this was a great way to start that again. Alternative Breaks is a unique program that not only allows students to use their free time towards service, but actually educates the student on the purpose and importance of their service. It truly follows the Jesuits’ and Xavier’s belief of men and women for and with others.
I really enjoy doing service and I wanted to devote my break to doing it. The AB program provided me with many unique injustices to serve and they had many for me that fit perfectly.
What social issue was your AB trip about? What did you learn about the issue before you went and while you were there?
My trip’s issue was Water in Communities, which was focused on different forms of water conservation and permaculture. I learned a lot of different things that you wouldn’t typically think of. It ranged from the obvious water treatment, composting, agriculture procedures to the less obvious organic farming, bioconstruction, and environmental racism.
While on the trip I learned about the importance of using everything to its final end. Just because something is used up, doesn’t mean it is done. Reusing and finding new purposes for things is very important. I learned about the Puerto Rican culture and way-of-life. This is a very important factor in the AB program it not only gives you a place to do service, but at the end of the week it gives a place to call home and that makes your service even more valuable.
What was your current trip like?
I went to Plenitud in Las Marias, Puerto Rico. Plenitud is an educational and commercial organic/permaculture farm. My trip consisted of a lot of hands-on and hard labor activities. We got up at 6:30 for breakfast and worked all day until 5:00pm. We had a lunch in between don’t worry! We did a lot of farm maintenance that helped with Plenitud’s goals and projects. We helped build a swale, a rainwater management system for on side of sloping terrain that consist of different levels of ditches, and had great bonding moments with our whole group.
What was your favorite moment from the trip?
I can’t pick one thing from my trip and I’m sure no one from my group can either so I’ll give you two. First, the bonding moments that we had within our group and with the staff of Plenitud. We all became very close and became best friends, and the Plenitud staff definitely felt like part of the Xavier community when we left. Secondly, the one moment that I was very proud of (and am sure Xavier would be too) is when the staff at Plenitud complemented us on how well behaved we were, on our willingness to do anything that was asked of us, and on how amazing Xavier sounded for sending students to service like this instead of on a stereotypical spring break. They were very impressed with Xavier!
Why do you think other students should take advantage of this opportunity next year?
Students should take advantage of AB because it can provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences. There will always be time to go to a beach with a group of friends, but now is the time to do something different. Get your hands dirty, open your mind, and experience service in no other way possible.
Favorite funny moment from the trip: I was unable to pronounce a plant that I worked with every day. I kept on calling it Tatianna, when it was Titonia. The staff then proceeded to refer to this flower as my girlfriend, and it caught on with my group members as well.
Favorite type of service: My favorite type of service on this trip was working on the swales. In general, I don’t really have a preference on the type of service. As long as something is working towards the greater good and is tangible. I like to see my work done and see that I made an impact.
Favorite place to travel to: On the trip, it was great to see the beach and ocean for the first time, absolutely beautiful. I also enjoy traveling to Europe, specifically Germany, and to Arizona.
Fun fact: I live on my family dairy farm that’s been in my family for over 180 years.